It’s becoming increasingly obvious that as we spend more time communicating via social media, we are disappearing into bubbles. We receive information from the same sources and witness the views of the same people in our personalised newsfeeds every day. But it also seems like living in our bubble is having an effect on our own opinions and how we formulate them. An interesting statistical regularity has been documented about group deliberation. This phenomenon has been called group or attitude polarisation, or just polarisation for short. It’s something that has been intensively studied by Cass Sunstein, a Harvard law professor and former Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Sunstein says that deliberation appears to move groups of people of accord opinion “toward a more extreme point in the direction indicated by their own pre-deliberation judgments”.
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Editor’s note: Ben Maximilian Heubl, is a tech blogger, a data journalist (data journalism ambassador for Infogr.am), digital health geek and technology advocate and speaker. Ben founded a European chapter of the non-for profit organizat…
But Mr Bostrom worries about a more fundamental problem. Once intelligence is sufficiently well understood for a clever machine to be built, that machine may prove able to design a better version of itself. The cleverer it becomes, the quicker it would be able to design further upgrades. That could lead to an “intelligence explosion”, in which a machine arrives at a state where it is as far beyond humans as humans are beyond ants.
For some, that is an attractive prospect, as such godlike machines would be much better able than humans to run human affairs. But Mr Bostrom is not among them. The thought processes of such a machine, he argues, would be as alien to humans as human thought processes are to cockroaches. It is far from obvious that such a machine would have humanity’s best interests at heart — or, indeed, that it would care about humans at all.